One of the coolest things about baseball and MLB in particular, is how age truly is just a number. Guys can be over 40, like Adam Wainwright, and still perform at an elite level while young guys barely older than 20, and not far removed from the lower rungs of the minor leagues, can light up the league. The latter is definitely true for the Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez, who is having an incredible season as he leads the current AL Rookie of the Year odds.
It’s basically a three-player race for the award in the AL as Rodríguez is the presumptive favorite with Jeremy Peña and Bobby Witt Jr. far behind. Peña has played a big part in the Houston Astros having such favorable odds to win World Series and Witt Jr. has been a bright spot in another bad Kansas City Royals season, but Rodríguez has looked like a flat-out superstar so it should be his award to win.
Let’s break down each of their candidacies to give you some context and help you make your futures bets (and throw in a true longshot option as well):
Julio Rodríguez: -330
The Seattle Mariners have completely turned their season around in the last few weeks and Julio Rodríguez has been a major reason for that shift, they’ve won 11 straight. The 21-year-old was highly touted coming up through the minor leagues and, in his first taste of MLB, he has more than lived up to the high expectations. He is striking out a lot (close to a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio) but is hitting for a plenty of power and is stealing plenty of bases, in addition to being a very good outfielder.
Essentially, Rodríguez has done it all and has been a steady force in a somewhat-inconsistent Seattle lineup. So, it makes sense that he would be the prohibitive favorite in terms of the AL Rookie of the Year odds. He’s the most “all-around” candidate and now has the added bonus of playing on a Mariners team that suddenly is right in the playoff mix, which always helps the narrative for a major award like this one.
However, his odds might be a little too juiced considering who is the likely No. 2 option in the AL, Jeremy Peña.
Jeremy Peña: +650
Even though he’s far behind Rodríguez in the MLB betting odds to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award right now, Peña is a great value option because he has hit much more than expected for the Houston Astros who are one of the best teams in baseball. Injuries have limited the number of games he’ll be able to play but, since he’s on pace for around 20 home runs and 60 or so RBIs with Gold Glove-caliber defensive play, Peña has a shot.
His main issue, is that he won’t have the stats to outpace Rodríguez. Peña has been worth over 3.2 bWAR, which is just behind Julio, but Julio will have him easily beat in stolen bases, home runs, RBIs, and most of the other major categories which still hold big importance in the eyes of voters. Peña’s appeal is how good Houston has been yet that might hurt him, since Rodríguez has had to carry much more of a burden in Seattle. Still, Peña is worth a flyer at that number.
Bobby Witt Jr. (+1200) and Adley Rutschman (+2200)
We’ll lump in the No. 3 and No. 4 guys on the AL Rookie of the Year odds list in the same section because they’re the only guys other than Rodríguez and Peña who may legitimately deserve to garner some votes. Both Witt, on the Kansas City Royals, and Rutschman, on the Baltimore Orioles, started the year in the minors so they’re at a (big games played) disadvantage and neither has had the kind of success that Rodríguez and Peña have experienced thus far.
Witt Jr. is leading baseball in triples and could catch Rodríguez in both home runs and stolen bases which might help him convince a few voters to go his way, especially if he heats up down the stretch and Rodríguez cools down. The path is tougher for Rutschman, who has been just a league-average hitter since getting the call-up from the minors. He has tons of promise still but won’t be able to compile the kinds of offensive numbers that the top three options will.Follow us on Twitter